What’s Killing My WiFi Signal?
How to minimize the impact of wireless interference
WiFi signals are kind of like the weather—unpredictable at times. The technology that allows us to connect to the internet wirelessly is convenient, but many factors can affect signal strength, and in turn, the speed and quality you experience.
Computers, game systems, TVs, tablets, smart home devices such as thermostats and home assistants all use WiFi. An array of devices all competing for the signal—and their own share of your available bandwidth—puts a lot of demand on your router. What’s more, even the signals that are transmitted between your devices and router have to contend with physical objects around your home—things like walls, doors and other barriers.
Unlike a wired connection that provides a direct, physical connection from the modem to the device, WiFi travels through radio waves—and it’s up to your router to pick up and distribute the signal. A strong, consistent signal is not a certainty, though, because there are many things that can interfere with the signal, resulting in inconsistent speeds or lost connectivity.
Common household objects, from floors, doors and walls to microwaves, mirrors, and baby monitors all can potentially interfere with your signal. Sometimes, neighboring WiFi networks can cause interference, as well. Signal strength also can degrade over long distances, making it even more difficult to pass through barriers.
There are some simple things you can do to minimize interference and receive a stronger, more consistent signal throughout your home.
Wi-Fi technology that can help
A wireless router will operate best when located centrally in your home, away from walls and other obstructions. But even with your router in an optimal location, it’s still possible to receive interference, weak signals and connection issues. Fortunately, there are devices to remedy some of the issues.
1. Mesh networks
Mesh networks are a group of devices that work together to create a single, more powerful WiFi network. Mesh networks are created by using each device to generate multiple sources, or “points” of WiFi around a home. Mesh technology, such as Google Nest Wifi, spread out the WiFi signal to each of those points by communicating with each other wirelessly. Each device works together to enhance wireless coverage and goes beyond the reach of a single router.
2. Range extenders
Range extenders connect wirelessly to Wi-Fi routers, and as the name implies, they extend the reach of your network by picking up the signal and retransmitting it. Range extenders, also known as repeaters or boosters, can be effective in large houses, where Wi-Fi coverage otherwise might be spotty.
3. Access points
While range extenders only expand a signal, access points create a network and transmit their own signal to a designated area. Access points connect to a wired router via an Ethernet cable. Routers often have their own access points built in, and depending on the model, sometimes have more than one.
4. A Managed WiFi solution
Maintaining a wireless network isn’t always easy. There are challenges ranging from connecting new devices, resolving signal issues, troubleshooting problems, securing the network from hacking and other threats and managing the router and other equipment. A solution such as Arvig’s Managed WiFi service manages your WiFi network for you. Trained technicians are on hand to resolve any connection issues you might have, help you connect new devices and keep everything running optimally with the best available signal. WiFi is supposed to be convenient. Managed services leave the hassles with your service provider.
- The more devices you have connected to your WiFi network, the more competition there will be for available bandwidth which can strain your network and slow down access. If you want faster speeds, you might have to limit the number of devices connected at one time.
- Old or outdated technology will not be able to receive signals as efficiently, so if your router is several years old, it might not be able to consistently deliver a strong signal.
- Consider a wired connection for devices that allow it. Smart TVs, game consoles and computers all can be hard-wired with an Ethernet cable. A one-to-one connection is a better way to get a stronger, more consistent signal.
- A WiFi interference is a common issue with wireless networks. Even so, there are some relatively easy ways to improve your signal and enjoy a better online experience.